Azeri gas not such a good idea for EU, say NGOs
23 June 2014, europolitics
The EU’s plans to import gas via gas pipelines or liquefied natural gas (LNG) are not only contrary to its long-term climate objectives but also unjustified in the context of the European Commission’s predictions in terms of energy demand.
Such was the message delivered by an NGO platform, which includes Bankwatch Europe. One of its major targets was the Southern Corridor project, which is supported by the EU and aims to import gas from Azerbaijan to Europe via Turkey (TANAP gas pipeline), Greece, Albania and Italy (TAP gas pipeline).
The NGOs are pointing the finger at the number of gas projects aimed at increasing imports – the Commission’s so-called projects of common interest (PCI) – which, according to the NGOs far exceed the Commission’s road map by 2050, which predicts a drop in gas imports.
The NGOs note that out of the 248 PCIs the Commission has chosen, over 100 are related to gas (transport, storage and LNG) and 15 aim to increase the EU’s gas imports. The NGOs are particularly concerned about the TAP and TANAP gas pipeline plans, which are set to supply the EU with gas from the Caspian Sea.
“This mega pipeline will lock the EU into dependency vis-à-vis Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, lending more than a helping hand to the repressive regimes of Aliyev and Berdimuhamedov, which are pocketing the dividends,” Emma Hughes said in the name of the NGO platform. Hughes added: “There is not much point in reducing dependency vis-à-vis Russia merely to replace it with unpredictable dictatorships”.
The platform is also critical of the fact that these projects will be eligible for loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). Article 14 of Regulation 347/2013 also allows investors to ask for EU aid as part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) – under which a €5.85 billion budget has been allocated to trans-European energy infrastructures for the period 2014-2020. An expert was keen to underline that certain projects, such as TAP, are not eligible for subsidies, since the Commission has granted them an exemption relative to access to third parties (planned under the EU’s third energy package) – but they remain eligible for EIB or EBRD loans.